Rijkstudio Reflection

I was unable to get the photo to upload, but here’s a link:

The painting, produced by Paul Joseph Constantin Gabriël in 1889, is entitled “A Windmill on a Polder Waterway, Known as ‘In the Month of July,” the title and subject matter so perfectly Dutch as to feature multiple iconic symbols of the Netherlands. The most immediately noticeable features of the painting are the windmill–its central subject–and the dimensions of the painting, which is ironically in portrait rather than landscape. This highlights the next prominent features: the expansive sky and the waterway, the latter of which features the windmill’s reflection. From here, my eyes dart back and forth, noticing the small hut and cow to the left, and the man walking up the pathway to the right. Its soft impressionistic brushstrokes conceal the clear geometry beneath, but as I look at it longer I realize that everything leads inward towards the windmill, which occupies a central place in the painting and serves as the vanishing point for the work’s perspective. As you gaze at it longer, other details become apparent, especially along the horizon line. There’s the distant steeple of a church rising above clusters of low buildings. There are trees along this flat line too, breaking up its straightness. I begin to notice the birds in the sky and their reflections in the water, as well as the contours of the polder landscape and the flowers and brush along the water. The landscape is intentionally designed by the painter to draw your eye in specific ways, but as you look these details become more apparent and draw your gaze in other directions.

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2 thoughts on “Rijkstudio Reflection

  1. I enjoyed reading about the way you approached this painting! It is fitting that the windmill is in the center of the painting as it is representative of Dutch culture. When I first looked at this picture, my eyes were immediately drawn to the windmill’s power and dependability. Calmness and productivity radiate from this piece of artwork. The artist does a great job of using shadowing to mimic dynamic movement. As the blades move in a circular motion, so does the viewer’s eyes. Your comments on the brushstrokes leading toward the windmill reminded me of Brusati’s discussion on center points of reference. For example, Brusati remarked that “the eye’s field of view is spherical” (Brusati 916). Thus, viewers experience the painting by rotating around the windmill, which is the center point. The windmill serves as the point of perspective in this painting. I think it is interesting that the cow and the man are both angled toward the windmill. They provide a scale reference to emphasize the height of the structure. Perhaps the windmill is meant to symbolize Dutch pride? I think it is significant that the windmill dominates the landscape; this is similar to how the Dutch value their ability to control nature.

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  2. I really like the painting you choose and your point about how it matches the Dutch features. This is a really beautiful and calm setting with the windmill being the central focus of the painting. I agree that other features of the painting will surface after shifting focus away from the windmill but they served more as compliments of the windmill. The way this painting is portrayed is quite different from certain point of views addressed by Brusati. The windmill painting used more of a traditionally approach will one major point of perspective rather than multiple point of perspectives to generate the movement of the eyes.

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